Swiss LMP1 racing driver Harold Primat recorded a strong sixth place finish in the LMP1 category in round two of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship in Spa despite the tricky race conditions. Crossing the finish line in sixth place also meant that the Rebellion Racing driver and his teammate Andrea Belicchi secured a second place finish in the World Endurance Championship Privateers Cup and in the unofficial petrol class.
The first runs for the Rebellion Racing drivers on this very demanding track during free practice were challenging, but the hard work during practice paid off and Belicchi qualified the number 13 B12/60 Lola-Toyota in seventh position; setting the third fastest time of the petrol field with a time of 2:05:078. However the Italian driver was impeded by the traffic during his three fast laps so the team’s qualifying position didn’t represent the car’s true pace.
On race day heavy rain fell during the warm up session so with a few hours to go until the start of the race, the big question was would it rain during the race?
The rain stopped just ahead of the race but the track remained fully wet when the lights went off at 1430 local time. Belicchi took the race start and had a hard job fighting to keep the car on the track and trying to gain positions on the wet circuit. However after a fantastic first lap the number 13 car was up to P5 by the end of lap one; leading the petrol field behind the four Audis. Unfortunately after 90 minutes of racing race control decided to hand Belicchi a stop-go penalty for crossing the white line at the start. Subsequently, despite a good opening of the race, the car fell down the order to 9th by the time the Italian ended his double stint.
Fifteen minutes later it was time for Harold to jump into the car for a triple stint. By then the track was dry and Harold began to push the car hard and was firmly on the pace. His lap times clearly showed this as he matched the pace of Nick Heidfeld in the number 12 sister car. Harold drove strongly and got the car back in the fight for seventh place.
After more than two and a half hours behind the wheel, Harold pitted and placed the car back into the hands of his Italian teammate. After the driver change Belicchi came out in P9 and then set about closing the gap to the driver in front of him. With one hour of the race left to run he was up to P8 with a three second gap to P7.
Fifteen minutes later Belicchi had caught and passed the seventh placed driver and was running in P7 behind the Strakka Racing car in P6. With a last attempt to move further up the field Belicchi made a final push and with just 15 minutes left on the clock snatched P6 in the LMP1 class and P2 in the World Endurance Championship Privateers Cup.
Harold Primat: “I am very happy with this sixth place. It is a nice reward for the team who did a fantastic job during the week to bring us a very strong car. We received the new aero package two weeks ago and we’ve been working hard to find the right set up and balance. The hard work paid off as the car was really quick and impressive to drive in the dry.”
“The start of the race was quite tricky with the rain and the damp track. But Andrea did a great job by keeping the car on the track and in a good position; it is just a shame that we got that penalty which cost us one or maybe two laps. However we managed to push as soon as the track dried and we could gain places. At the end of the day I am very happy with our result. For the team to finish right behind the four diesel Audi cars that have significantly more power than the rest of the LMP1 field is a great achievement and I feel upbeat and confident for the next race; the Le Mans 24 Hours!” said Harold.
Harold and Rebellion Racing stay in Spa Francorchamps for testing on Monday, May 7, and will then prepare the Le Mans test day on June 3, before the great event, the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 16-17.
Notes to editors:
About Harold Primat: Harold Primat is a Swiss racing driver with over 15 years racing experience including British F3, World Series Lights, Le Mans Series and American Le Mans Series. Harold has competed in the world’s most famous endurance race; the 24 Hours of Le Mans, seven times and has achieved victories at all levels of racing; including his most recent win in the 2011 American Le Mans Series race at Laguna Seca.
Harold Primat is supported by partners, Harwood International, Banque Baring Brothers Sturdza, Crans Montana and Primland. www.haroldprimat.com
Follow Harold on Twitter @Harold_Primat and on Facebook
About Rebellion Racing: REBELLION Racing is a successful privateer team from Switzerland and one of the most respected teams in the premier class of endurance racing with a great record of achievements. 2011 CHAMPION Le Mans Series LMP1 Team 2011 CHAMPION Le Mans Series LMP1 Manufacturer 2011 2nd and 3rd Le Mans Series LMP1 Drivers championship 2011 3rd Intercontinental Le Mans Cup LMP1 Team championship 2011 1st Privateer LMP1 Team in Intercontinental Le Mans Cup 2011 6th Le Mans 24 Hours 2010 3rd Le Mans Series LMP1 Team championship 2009 WINNER Michelin Green X Challenge 2009 2nd Le Mans Series LMP2 Team championship 2009 2nd Le Mans Series LMP2 Drivers championship 2009 2nd Le Mans 24 Hours - LMP2
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